Easter is the most important Christian holiday. But why? Today, Spotlight tells the story behind this holiday.
Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Colin Lowther. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.
A crowd of people welcomes a man into their city. They cheer and praise him as he enters the city gates. But soon, this same crowd will call for this man’s death. He will die. But his death is not the end of the story. In fact, it will begin a new story – the story of a miracle for all people. Christians around the world celebrate this event at Easter. Every spring, Christians remember and retell this story. Today, Spotlight tells the Easter story.
The story begins about 2,000 years ago in the city of Jerusalem, in the ancient Roman province of Palestine. It is the Jewish holiday of Passover. During this holiday, the people remember how God led them out of slavery hundreds of years before. Many Jewish people gather in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover miracle. On this day, a man named Jesus and his followers were preparing to enter the city to celebrate Passover.
Jesus was a great prophet and teacher. He performed many miracles and taught people how to live good lives. Jesus said he was sent from God. He had come to save all people from the effects of their sins.
Many people loved Jesus. But many religious leaders did not. The things Jesus said and did made the leaders angry. They believed that only God could do the things Jesus spoke about.
When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, he was riding on a simple donkey. But the people welcomed him like a king. They spread their coats on the ground in front of Jesus’ donkey. They took palm tree leaves and laid them in the donkey’s path. They cheered and shouted:
“Blessed is the son of David!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Jesus continued riding until he reached the great temple. During Passover, people are supposed to offer sacrifices to God. But inside the temple, people were not praying and sacrificing. They were buying and selling things. They had made it a marketplace. Jesus became angry. And he turned over some of the tables. He told the people the temple was for worshipping God – not making money. After this, the religious leaders decided they needed to silence Jesus. He was making trouble for them.
Over the next few days, Jesus continued teaching about God and performing miracles. But someone was about to betray Jesus. It was one of his own followers, or disciples. The disciple’s name was Judas. One night Judas went to the religious leaders. As he came near, they said:
“We know you! You are Judas. You are a follower of Jesus. Troublemaker... What are you doing here?”
“I have a deal for you. What will you give me if I give Jesus to you?”
“You cannot be serious. Are you telling us the truth? Can it be that easy?”
“Yes. What will you give me if I do it?”
The religious leaders agreed to pay Judas 30 silver coins to betray Jesus.
On the first night of the Passover feast, Jesus and the disciples gathered to eat a meal together. As they were eating, Jesus told them that one of them would betray him. The disciples all became very sad. They asked who it would be. But Jesus did not tell them. Then Jesus took some bread from the table. He thanked God for it. Then he broke the bread into pieces. He gave the pieces of bread to his disciples. He said:
“Take this, and eat it. This is a symbol of my body.”
Then Jesus took a cup of wine from the table. Again, he thanked God for it. Then he passed the cup to each of his disciples and said:
“All of you drink from this cup. This is a symbol of my blood. It is a symbol of the promise between God and humans. It is poured out to forgive the sins of many people. After I die, you should do these things to remember me.”
The disciples did all that Jesus told them to do. They did not know what Jesus was talking about. But they sang a song of praise to God. Then they went out of the house.
After the meal, Jesus and his followers travelled to a place called Gethsemane. Here, Jesus prayed to God. Jesus knew Judas would betray him. He knew he would die and that it would be a painful death. Jesus did not want to experience a painful death. But he knew that his death would save people. Jesus had lived a perfect life. He had never sinned. But he chose to die to save people from results of their sin. For an hour, Jesus prayed to God. He pleaded with God:
“My Father, God, if it is possible, take this suffering away from me. But let what you want be done, not what I want.”
After praying, Jesus returned to his disciples. But he found them sleeping! He seemed angry with them and asked them to keep watch again. Again, Jesus left the group to pray alone. After praying, he returned again to his disciples. And again he found them sleeping! He went back to pray a third time. But when he returned the third time, he called to the disciples:
“Are you still sleeping and resting? Look! The time is near. Get up, let’s go! Here comes the man who will betray me.”
Judas arrived with a large crowd carrying weapons. The crowd did not know which man was Jesus. So Judas told them he would kiss Jesus to identify him. Judas saw Jesus. He went to Jesus and said:
He gave Jesus a kiss. Jesus answered him:
“Friend, do what you came to do.”
Three soldiers from the crowd arrested Jesus. He went with them peacefully. His disciples ran away.
Soon after his arrest Jesus stood before the governor. This Roman leader would decide Jesus’ punishment. The religious leaders told the governor that Jesus was causing trouble. They told him that Jesus thought he was the king!
The governor did not know what to do. He knew Jesus was innocent. But it seemed like the people wanted Jesus dead. He stood in front of the crowd of people. He asked them:
“What do you want me to do with this innocent man? What do you want me to do to Jesus?”
“But what has he done?”
“Crucify him! Crucify him!”
So the governor gave the crowd what they wanted. He sentenced Jesus to death - death on a cross.
This is not the end of the story. Jesus would face death. But what makes this story so important to Christians? Listen to part two to hear what happens next.
The writer of this program was Liz Waid. The producer was Mark Drenth. This telling of the Easter Story is based on the book of Matthew, in the Christian Bible. You can listen to this program again on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘The Easter Story, Part 1’.
We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.